Physalis pubescens L.
Downy Ground Cherry
CC = 4
CW = 5
MOC = 63
Family - Solanaceae
Habit - Annual forb, more or less taprooted.
Root - No info. yet
Stem - Ascending, to 80 cm, with relatively few, loosely ascending to spreading branches, glabrous to moderately pubescent toward the tip with short, spreading, multicellular, mostly gland-tipped hairs 0.1-0.5 mm long, often also with moderate to dense, longer (1-3 mm), spreading, nonglandular hairs.
Leaves - Alternate, simple, petiolate. Blades 2-8 cm long, ovate to broadly ovate or nearly circular, angled or short-tapered to a sharply pointed tip, broadly rounded to more or less truncate at the base, the margins entire or relatively sparsely toothed, minutely hairy, the teeth shallow and broad, the surfaces green when fresh, drying uniformly green, sparsely to moderately pubescent (more densely on the undersurface) with short, mostly gland-tipped, multicellular hairs.
Inflorescences - Solitary axillary flowers, the stalks 3.5-9.0 mm long, becoming elongated to 6-15 mm at fruiting.
Flowers - Actinomorphic, hypogynous, perfect, usually nodding. Calyces 3-6 mm long at flowering, the lobes 1.0-3.5 mm long, the outer surface with sparse to dense, short, multicellular, nonglandular hairs at flowering, persistently hairy at fruiting, at fruiting becoming elongated to 20-30 mm long, sharply 5-angled, concave at the base, green or pale brown to tan. Corollas 6-11 mm long, pale yellow to lemon yellow, the inner surface with 5 large, prominent dark purplish brown spots toward the base (these sometimes merged into a ring or appearing smudged). Stamens with broad filaments about as wide as the anthers, the anthers 1-2 mm long, blue or bluish-tinged, arched but not coiled after dehiscence.
Fruits - Juicy berries 1.0-1.2 cm long, green or yellow, occasionally purplish-tinged. Seeds numerous, 1.5-2.5 mm in longest dimension, asymmetrically ovate, flattened, the surface minutely pitted, somewhat shiny, light yellow or yellowish brown.
Flowering - May - November.
Habitat - Streambanks, sloughs, pond margins, moist depressions, crop field margins, railroads, moist disturbed areas.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Lookalikes - Other species of Physalis, especially P. heterophylla, P. cordata, and P. grisea.
Other info. - This species of ground cherry is found scattered throughout most of Missouri, except for the northwestern quadrant of the state where it is uncommon or absent. It is also found scattered to uncommon through much of the continental U.S., and extends southward into South America.
Photographs taken in Logan Creek, Reynolds County, MO., 7-7-03 (DETenaglia); also along the Katy Trail west of Treloar, Warren County, MO, 7-25-2019, and Katy Trail near Dutzow, Warren County, MO, 8-18-2023 (SRTurner).